New Asian Currents [KOREA]

Doomealee, the Very First Step

Shijakhaneun Soongan
- KOREA / 2000 / Korean / Color / 35mm (shot by DV) / 80 min

Director, Script: Hong Hyung-sook
Photography: Kong Mi-Yon
Editing, Sound: Lee Mario
Music: Shin Dong-il
Narrator: Bang Eun-jin
Producer: Kang Seok-pil
Support for kinescoping: Korean Film Commission
Production Company, Source: Seoul Visual Collective
5th fl. 140-57 Kyedong Chongro-gu Seoul KOREA
Phone:82-2-745-4641 Fax: 82-2-3672-4970
E-mail: lookdocu33@hotmail.com

In this sequel to her 1995 film Doomealee, A New School is Opening, Hong Hyung-sook’s approach hints at the tides of change in Korean society over the past five years. Doomealee villagers, mostly farmers, made national news in 1994 when they openly protested the closure of their community elementary school. They demanded that the government allow an alternative school to continue classes so that those children would not have to travel far every day. After the constitutional court rejected their appeal, the movement seemed to subside. In this film, Hong’s focus shifts from the activists’ political protest to a portrayal of the richness and beauty of life in the village, affirming a post-urban post-consumerist lifestyle.

[Director’s Statement] You meet with crossroads in life, and you must make choices. What do you think about those who dare to choose a way which can lead only to defeat? The Doomealee villagers did this six years ago. About 1,300 small schools had closed without any protest until they took steps to save their school. It was a fight against a Goliath government, and they could hardly expect to win. They knew this, but believed the first step itself to be important. They never shrank from defeat. I could see their faces shining with passion and pride, and hoped this brilliance would last for a long time.

But the brilliance grew dimmer. Those who had once applauded them disappeared. Urbanites’ luxurious villas were built here and there in the village. Concerns for the school weakened and the villagers’ unity loosened. As time went on, a thought came into my mind: what had led these ordinary farmers to such a hard fight?

When I visit the village now, I no longer visit the place where the school once stood. Instead I try to listen to the breathing and smell the scents of the village. I believe that these will help me find answers to my question, and that in the long run, my works will help bring back the brilliance.


- Hong Hyung-sook

Born in 1962. Graduated from Ewha Women’s University in 1986. Works include Battle Columns (1991), ’92 Rio Global Forum and 54 Days: Record of a Summer (1993). Became the general director of the Seoul Visual Collective in 1997, and the commissioner of the Korean Independent Film and Video Association in 1999. Doomealee: A New School is Opening (1995) was screened at New Asian Currents YIDFF ’95. Other works include Reclaiming Our Name (1998) and Border City (2000).

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